Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Paver Driveway and Concrete Patio Project, Part 1

By: Danny Lipford

This home was in a nice neighborhood but the lot was short on parking space, so we added a beautiful Pavestone paver driveway and walk to the front of the house.

To improve the look of the patio on the back of the house, we cleaned the concrete and stained it with Quikrete Translucent Concrete Stain.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: Warmer weather turns our attention outside. So this week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re kicking off a two-part project to turn this yard from blah to beautiful.

Brenda Martens: It’s too beautiful of a neighborhood to have this kind of front yard.

Danny Lipford: Everybody loves to go to the beach, but when it’s in your front yard it gets old pretty quick. Now, think about it when it rains, and you’re going from your car right inside the house. I think we have some ideas that’ll solve this problem for these homeowners. Billy Kavula and Brenda Martens bought this house just a few months ago and they’ve made some changes on the inside. Now, it’s time to tackle the great outdoors.

Billy Kavula: We knew there were going to be cosmetic issues inside. No major problems, but… Our main problems ended up being outside, especially our front yard.

Danny Lipford: Apparently, the home’s narrow driveway encouraged the former owners to use the lawn as a parking lot. Billy and Brenda need the parking space as well, but they want something more attractive and at least a little lawn.

Billy Kavula: We’ve looked at everything from gravel, to pavers, to cementing, to… The boys wanted a basketball court out there, instead of the dust bowl.

Brenda Martens: One of the things that we really loved about this neighborhood is that it has a lot of sidewalks, and therefore there’s a lot of people out, people walking and it creates a kind of community and that is something we were looking for. And when we found this house in this neighborhood, it really offered that.

And so I’d really like to be able to sit out there and see people out walking and meeting different people, especially as newcomers. We’d like to have people over a lot. We have two teenagers who like to have their friends over. So that would be a space for them to be in as well.

Danny Lipford: The back yard has a generously sized patio with lots of privacy. But it lacks the character and charm to make it an attractive outdoor living area. I’d like to have some flowers for some color back here too.

Billy Kavula: We need color, yes.

Brenda Martens: We could do it in pots or we could do it plants.

Billy Kavula: Being new down here, I don’t know what flowers are going to be good and what are going to last.

Danny Lipford: So, for the front yard challenge, turn the beach back into a lawn and create an attractive parking solution. So you think putting a paver patio, a little paver driveway right in here, a little transition walking in, a little grass out here would make a difference?

Billy Kavula: Oh, that would be a big deal. Yeah, we would really like to keep something here, at least get one car here.

Danny Lipford: Yeah. All right, we can work that in. We also can grade this in such a way that we can probably get some of the water to go this way and some of it to go that way. We definitely have to find the sprinkler lines. Are there sprinkler lines out in here?

Billy Kavula: Shouldn’t be.

Brenda Martens: Well, I think they’re mostly in the beds.

Danny Lipford: Oh, I got you. Okay, good. Well, if they’re out here, we’ll find ’em.

Brenda Martens: Okay.

Danny Lipford: To give some new life to this tired patio in the back, we’re suggesting some clean-up and concrete stain. All of this will be amazing anyway once we get it all cleaned up.

Brenda Martens: Well, and clean up all this moss.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, and get the moss out of there. We’ll also add natural wood furniture to give the area some warmth and wood lattice to break up that massive wall of green.

And, you know, I think here, even though this looks nice being painted, if we use some of what we call checkerboard lattice, instead of the diagonal type lattice, it’ll just give a little bit more of a finished appearance there.

Brenda Martens: Oh, that’s nice.

Danny Lipford: And then with the chairs that we’ll have out here, you know, made from the same material, it kind of looks intentional I guess. You know, from that standpoint.

Brenda Martens: Okay.

Danny Lipford: So it’s time for us to get started. Since we’re laying pavers, we’ve called in our good friend Andy Morton from Pavestone. He recently helped us with a patio and outdoor fireplace project that turned out to be a great success. And he’s not afraid of hard work.

Andy Morton: We have a good starting point here, a good level surface. It looks like we’ve got some good soil to work with. This should be a good location.

Danny Lipford: And what about how it ties in right in here? What do you think? These should come up.

Andy Morton: Yeah, definitely, we need to pull these pavers out, so we can get a good, straight line to start on right here. And we’ll want to bring the level up, because I think the homeowners wanted to redo the driveway here. So we’ll want to bring this up a little bit to match.

Allen Lyle: What about this, though, Andy? If we’re coming in here, do we want a 90 degree turn in? Or do we want to try and do an apron?

Andy Morton: I think an apron would be good, especially the way that we make this, the turn, natural turn in here. We’re probably going to want that to kind of keep it on the driveway.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Andy Morton: And then, obviously, we want to tie it in. So we’re probably going to want to make a little curve back in towards the house there.

Allen Lyle: Yeah, I think a radius on this end and inside edge as well.

Andy Morton: Yeah, that should look good. And it makes it a little more, you know… Instead of just a straight square, rectangular situation.

Danny Lipford: What about the drainage? We should be able to really divert some of this water back that way, and obviously water is going that way. We could probably kind of solve this little problem.

Andy Morton: Really, we’re going to make the driveways the high point and everything is going to slope away from there and turn our water in the directions we need it to go in.

Danny Lipford: Okay, perfect. Well, you got the marking paint.

Allen Lyle: I got the marking paint.

Danny Lipford: Let’s see if we can’t get some lines established here. While we do that, why don’t you check in with Joe for this week’s simple solution.

Joe Truini: Container gardening has become popular with do-it-yourselfers, and it’s the practice of keeping plants in either large pots or trays as I have here. But the challenge is when you display them, they’re all typically on one level, which isn’t that attractive. So I thought, “How can we create a tiered planting system?”

Here’s what I did. I went to the home center store and bought some precut stair stringers—these are made for building deck stairs. And I attached them to a couple of short two-by-fours—one at the top, one at the bottom. Then I’m just going to set it in place against this fence.

And now, where the steps would ordinarily go—the treads—I’m going to put a planter tray. In this case I have enough for three trays. You can cut these stringers longer and store four, five, even six trays of plants; but here I just have three.

And the weight of the trays holds the stringers in place, so you don’t even have to fasten them to the fence. There you go. Isn’t that great?

So you have three tiers, and because this system is completely portable, at the end of the growing season, you just break everything down and put it in the shed.

Danny Lipford: Billy and Brenda’s front yard was a barren mess of dirt and sand. We’ve started work to replace it with a new lawn and a pavered driveway. In the short term, though, it’s going to be pretty dirty. We’re tilling up the whole yard to prepare for sod and we have to shovel out the driveway area to prepare for the pavers.

Andy Morton: We probably need to take this down four inches. because we actually want to raise the level up. Our pavers are two and three-eighths inches thick. So, if we have base sitting right at this level, that two and three-eighths inches thick paver is going to add just about the right amount of elevation.

Allen Lyle: Is three-eighths going to be enough for parking on?

Andy Morton: Exactly, yeah. 60 millimeter, that’s what you want for driveway pavers.

Allen Lyle: All right.

Danny Lipford: That base that Andy is talking about is the crushed limestone which will act as the foundation for our pavers. In this case, that means about five cubic yards of it. This tiller does a great job of churning up the dirt, but it’s a chore letting it drag you all over the yard. So, of course, I jump in to do my share.

Billy Kavula: I think I could show him a few things right now, but he’ll get the hang of it in a few years.

Danny Lipford: Apparently some people have a little too much time on their hands.

Allen Lyle: All right, here we go.

Danny Lipford: We need to get busy shoveling. Good dirt in this beach.

Billy Kavula: I thought it was just sand.

Danny Lipford: While Andy, Billy and I get the dirt moving, Allen is around back, with Brenda, getting the patio prepped for staining.

Allen Lyle: We want to clean that patio well.

Brenda Martens: Okay.

Allen Lyle: When you’re talking about a really good degreaser, a cleaner, an etcher like this, you may or may not need it full strength.

Brenda Martens: Okay.

Allen Lyle: So we’re going to test that first. What I’m going to do is 1-to-1. I got about a quart or so of water and I’ve got a quart of this. So what we want to do is we’re just going to pour a little of this out. And we’re just going to let that sit for a little bit. What’s nice about this is we don’t have to break out the pressure washer.

Brenda Martens: Oh, okay.

Allen Lyle: This is actually going to do the cleaning for us. See how it’s bubbling?

Brenda Martens: Mmm-hmm.

Allen Lyle: That’s exactly what we want right there. That’s perfect, right there. All right, so I think we’re ready to clean the patio.

Brenda Martens: Okay, let’s go.

Allen Lyle: Alright. Let’s start with that square, right there.

Brenda Martens: Okay.

Allen Lyle: So we just pour it on and let it sit for about a minute. Let’s just let that sit for a bit.

Brenda Martens: Okay.

Allen Lyle: This is where we talk about the weather.

Danny Lipford: While those two are watching the Quikrete formula do its work…

Brenda Martens: It’s a beautiful day.

Allen Lyle: Beautiful weather.

Danny Lipford:…some of us are still breaking a sweat, sort of. Once the etcher has done its job, there’s a little scrubbing to be done before they rinse the surface to stop the etching process and wash away the dirt.

In the front yard the excavation is done and Allen’s rejoined us to get everything ready to lay down the base material. We have all of the dirt out of there. Allen’s just now finishing up all of the plate compacting in order to really pack the ground.

And then we’re moving in this crushed limestone. And this is so perfect to pack it out and have a really good, tight foundation. It also allows, when you have a heavy rain, for water to penetrate through the pavers and right on into the ground, a big advantage of being able to use pavers.

Now, we’ll move just about all of this and then we’ll pack all of it down and we’ll be installing pavers first thing in the morning. Getting the base material into the space is only part of the job. Once it’s there, it has to be raked to the right depth, and screeded out to a flat, level surface.

We always talk about how a lot of the things that maybe, you know, we repair things and we never get things done around our house?

Allen Lyle: Right.

Danny Lipford: Well, that’s not the case with Andy. I want you to look at this. Does this look familiar to you?

Allen Lyle: Oh-ho!

Danny Lipford: So the question is, how long did it take you to sneak all of these bricks away from work to get ’em home?

Andy Morton: I got it one block at a time and it didn’t cost me a dime.

Danny Lipford: Oh really? Wow, man! By the time the crushed limestone is smoothed and leveled, it’s late in the day, so our last chore is running the plate-compactor over the base to firmly pack it in. Got it all packed, huh?

Andy Morton: That’s it.

Danny Lipford: Man, this is going to look fantastic. And so you just take the different ones and just randomly put ’em in when you put ’em down?

Andy Morton: Exactly. We’re going to use four different sized pavers and mix them all up, random pattern. Things are looking good. I think we’re right where we want to be at the end of day one, compacted, ready to start screeding sand and laying pavers in the morning.

Danny Lipford: Perfect, perfect. Well, we’re going to get the homeowners involved in that, right?

Andy Morton: Definitely.

Danny Lipford: It should be a great day tomorrow.

Jodi Marks: You know, I love it when I got that much power in my hands. Take a look at this string trimmer by Ego. And when I talk about power, look at how much power I got. I got a 56-volt lithium-ion battery that’s driving this bad boy.

But look! This battery is easy to pop off, it’s very lightweight. But I’m telling you what, with this battery you get just about as much power in this string trimmer as you would with a gas operated string trimmer.

It’s very balanced, which makes it very easy to use, so you don’t get fatigued. You’ve got about a 12-inch swath as you are cutting, so it speeds up the process.

But I have to say, I like this slow start. You press the safety, and when you turn it on it doesn’t jolt right on, it’s a slow start up. See that? And I’ll tell you what, with that much power, I can’t believe how quiet it is.

Brenda Martens: It’s too beautiful of a neighborhood to have this kind of front yard.

Danny Lipford: We’re in the middle of a yard makeover for homeowners Billy and Brenda, that will revamp both their front and back yards. By the end of day one, we were making great strides. And now the fun part, putting sand in.

Andy Morton: That’s right, we’re ready to start dumping sand. So what we’re going to end up with is about a one inch bed of sand. So just kind of try to string it out along here. The better we string it out, the less we have to drag the sand. The purpose of the paver sand is to give us that perfect, final grading. Take out any little dips and humps.

Danny Lipford: Usually when I spread sand like this, I like to have one in each hand, one bag in each hand.

Andy Morton: That’s the efficient way to do it.

Danny Lipford: And one under my arm like this.

Andy Morton: We might need a demonstration of that technique.

Danny Lipford: Fortunately, we had enough help that I never had to give that demonstration and the sand went down pretty quickly. Well, Billy, I’ll tell you what they’re doing is putting four different sizes of these things together to create the pattern for the driveway.

Billy Kavula: I’m glad I’m not designing that pattern.

Danny Lipford: I know. Thank goodness we got Andy to take care of that. And, I know you have to run off and do a little cooking for a fundraiser for the college, huh?

Billy Kavula: Yes, every year we do a fundraiser for our international service immersion program, a jambalaya luncheon. And today’s the day, unfortunately, and I got to head back to school.

Danny Lipford: So I would just assume that we’ll probably be eating pretty good around here around lunch time.

Billy Kavula: Well, we’ll have some jambalaya from a chef that we bring in from Baton Rouge every year.

Danny Lipford: Is that right?

Billy Kavula: Yes, sir.

Danny Lipford: That sounds perfect. That’ll make us work even harder… While Billy is serving up spicy food at school, back at the house, Brenda and Allen are about to transform that patio they cleaned yesterday with a spicy color.

Allen Lyle: Would you like to roll or brush?

Brenda Martens: I will brush.

Allen Lyle: All righty. Just like a paint, dip it, brush it off.

Brenda Martens: Okay. Just start on the edge?

Allen Lyle: On the edge, mmm-hmm. What I like about a stain, as opposed to a paint, is that stain is actually going to absorb into those pores and help seal it off.

Brenda Martens: Okay.

Allen Lyle: And once it’s dried up, then we can come up with another sealer on top of that and really protect it.

Brenda Martens: We won’t want to leave the back porch.

Allen Lyle: That’s the idea.

Danny Lipford: The color Brenda chose from the Quikrete pallet was terracotta. And it seems to be doing a good job hiding the reddish stains that were already in the concrete.

Brenda Martens: I think it looks great.

Allen Lyle: I can see those Adirondack chairs on this right now

Brenda Martens: And it’s easy for us to do. It is.

Allen Lyle: It is. Very easy.

Billy Kavula: I’m back, guys.

Danny Lipford: All right. Hey, here you go. Hey, I’ll give you my spot. I got gloves for you. And Andy’s going to tell you everything you need to know about pavers in about 10 seconds. Go.

Billy Kavula: Yes, sir.

Andy Morton: All right. Well, Billy, here’s what we got. We got a string line here parallel to the house. We’re going to lay our border course off that. So you can go ahead and grab a stone there. We’ve got a few going already.

And what you’re doing is kind of a click-and-drop here. You’re going to put the stones, touch ’em together, and then drop it right down into the sand. Just like that. No pounding in or anything. Just keep laying ’em.

Danny Lipford: So this is like the apprentice. This is like entry level pavers when you’re doing the border?

Andy Morton: Exactly. Well, you know it’s important too. Because if you don’t start up square, you don’t end up square, so…

Billy Kavula: All right, it’s not too much pressure.

Andy Morton: Yeah, it’s all riding on you here, right now.

Danny Lipford: If laying the border is a disciplined chore, then the pavers in the fill are a free-for-all. Just random, that’s all we’re doing. Just random. While Billy and I are trying to get in touch with our inner randomness.

I’m going to need a saw.

The patio stain has dried and Allen is about to add one more layer of protection.

Allen Lyle: We’re going to take this one step further, really protect it by putting on a high gloss sealer. You actually have two different types you can put on. You’ve got a natural and the high gloss, which is a wet look. It makes it looks like it was freshly done, like it’s soaking wet, but it’s not.

It protects against all the elements. It protects against dirt and debris. It makes this last a long time. As you can see, it goes on white, and it’s going to dry clear with that wet look on it. This is going to last for years to come.

Danny Lipford: Once the center of the pavered drive is filled in, we can start marking the radius to be cut, using this high-tech device called a garden hose.

Andy Morton: We’ll just take a Sharpie, go along here and put a mark on it. and we’ll be ready to cut it with a concrete saw.

Danny Lipford: All righty. Got your Sharpie? While we’re waiting for the concrete saw to arrive from the rental center, we begin trenching along the straight sections that already have the border in place. That way we can begin putting in the concrete curb that retains the pavers.

Andy Morton: We’re using the Quikrete fast set concrete, which works well for this, because it has a set-up time of about 30 to 45 minutes. So we can put this in here. It’ll set up quickly for us. And then we can get our sand swept. And get our plate compactor on top of our pavers again. Don’t have to wait around.

Danny Lipford: A lot of steps, huh, Billy?

Billy Kavula: That’s for sure.

Danny Lipford: When the saw arrives, Andy makes pretty quick work of the cuts. Once the curves are cut and the waste pieces removed, we can add the border course. And we’re ready for the dressing sand to go on top.

Spreading it with a broom helps the sand work down into the joints between the pavers, but the last pass with the plate compactor really tightens those seams up. With just two days done, we’ve made some remarkable progress.

Scott Gardner: Susan wants to know, “What’s a safe way to remove weeds from a gravel walk or driveway?”

Danny Lipford: I remember years ago, I used to have an office with a large gravel parking lot, and I battled those grasses and weeds all the time that would pop up right through that gravel no matter what I did.

Now, I tried to spray on a lot of the weed and grass killers, and they would work OK for a while, but I found something that worked just as good and it was even cheaper—just regular table salt. Now, I would buy it in the large 40-pound bags and it worked so well, very easy to use.

Then, I found something that was even cheaper, and that’s boiling water. You can take your tea kettle, and just pour it directly on any of the weeds or grasses that you may have. And it basically cooks them right in place, kills them quicker than just about anything else.

Now, just like any weed killers, you want to make sure you’re only applying the salt or hot water right where you want to kill it, not over on your nice grass. But when you really want to get rid of them, if you have just a few weeds, just simply pull them out by the roots.

Danny Lipford: In just two days, we’ve tilled up Billy and Brenda’s entire yard, cleaned and stained their patio, moved tons of soil, crushed limestone, and sand, and laid an awesome new pavered driveway. So, Andy, do you think this will be dry enough in the morning for us to put the sealer on?

Andy Morton: Absolutely, shouldn’t be a problem at all. As a matter of fact, the look you’re getting here with this wet look, that’s what that sealer’s going to do for you, really bring out the color.

Danny Lipford: Man, that looks fantastic. Well, you can see that you can do an awful lot of work in two days on a yard renovation like this, especially if you have a little extra help here and there. But, we’ve been able to get all of the driveway completely finished, and, as we talked about, we’ll be putting the sealer on tomorrow to really bring it to life.

We’ll also be building these four great Adirondack chairs to create a nice little outdoor living area on the freshly stained patio out back. We’ll also be planting grass and doing a lot of other things that may be perfect for your yard. We’ll be doing all of that on next week’s show. I hope you’ll join us right here on Today’s Homeowner. I’m Danny Lipford. Yeah, this looks great.

Allen Lyle: Who’s the amateur that left their phone on? This is Allen.



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